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Liz Taylor, founder and managing director of the Taylor Lynn Corporation, says to say it’s been a rocky road for event industry professionals in 2020 would be an understatement. Yet with a Covid-19 vaccination programme being rolled out, fans returning to sports stadiums and hints from the powers that be that weddings could be allowed from as early as May, we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Usually at this time of year, the topic on the news agenda within the events industry is firmly focused on what trends we will see in the coming year. Yet, it’s hard to look ahead right now without feeling a sense of trepidation and I want to fully acknowledge that before I look ahead with my usual optimism.
Our industry, so vibrant, so full of passion and talent has lost a great deal this year. The economic impact of coronavirus has hit us hard. Colourful characters and characterful venues have said goodbye to the industry. We’ve seen great businesses collapse. From hotel chains and restaurants, to pubs, event suppliers and management companies. We’ve lost talent. Both energetic newcomers and seasoned stalwarts that have dedicated their lives to doing what they do best – helping people to come together and have an unforgettable time.
Hard times do of course offer up the chance to learn and reassess. And there are definitely some positives to come from the last twelve months.
Never has the saying ‘you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone’ been more fitting. One thing that coronavirus has shown the hospitality and events industries is just how much our customers and clients appreciate us. How valuable our supplier and partner relationships are. And of course, how much we appreciate them in return. For clients, they have seen the true value of using an event planner to book venues. When individuals lost booking deposits and struggled to get refunds on their cancelled event, planners were able to draw on deep relationships to recover monies and postpone events.
And the public’s support too has been shown not only by the hundreds of thousands of people that have signed petitions lobbying for more support and less restrictions in the arts and hospitality sectors, but unsurprisingly pubs and restaurants were packed once they were allowed to reopen. People love and need to let their hair down, especially when things are tough.
That’s one of the reasons I do predict that the events industry will return with gusto in 2021. Many people have set their sights on Easter as a time when we may be able to celebrate without restrictions. A second shot at Christmas. Personally, I feel this may be a little premature. Businesses are certainly keen to utilise the live event experience in their marketing plans as soon as possible, balanced though with a need for reassurance on safety. So they seem to be playing it safe with future bookings.
Summer could be more realistic, and this is certainly when I feel corporate events could see a strong return. Businesses will want to reward, thank and motivate teams that have carried them through the tough times. Making the most of the better weather, I believe many staff recognition events will take place in the open air. This year, we’ve seen venues flex their offering by making the most of their outdoor spaces. Installing cosy nooks and innovative, inviting shelters to stave off the worst of the British weather while helping businesses to incorporate the rule of six outdoors. Those who have diversified will reap the rewards. As a hospitality consultant I tell clients all the time that any monies invested in business changes now, need to see a return once we can plan COVID-19 free events once again. It needs a long term view.
I believe that Autumn is when we will really start to see things get back to normal. Life, and events, should by then be able to return to something like they were pre-coronavirus pandemic. And after so long away, I believe there will be a strong appetite for the live events. At TLC HQ, we’re already planning how we will make those events even bigger and better than ever before. Fully immersing our customers in the sights, sounds and spine-tingling, multi-sensory live event experience. The comeback of all comebacks.
A further positive that event professionals could take from this difficult period would include the fact that our industry has come together and found its voice. In adversity, we have united and organised ourselves, which has in turn made an impact on the Government. From the #WeMakeEvents initiative to the stories of pubs and takeaways joining forces to offer guests ‘a substantial meal’ that allowed both to continue to operate and make profit, we’ve shown we’re better together. And a force to be reckoned with.
Finally, and perhaps not a popular thought right now, but in every crisis, there are winners. Those who have survived will emerge stronger and I hope now we will also start to see new talent coming through. When the crisis first hit my first thought was for all those newly qualified event professionals released from their studies into an industry that was nothing but an empty void. With inevitable gaps in the market there is an opportunity for the new class to enter and bring with them the vibrancy and energy that’s so needed right now. Whether they set up new companies or step up alongside the seasoned professionals to take the lead in reinvigorating the business, this really is the light at the end of this long tunnel. Whatever the future for the hospitality and events industry is – I for one plan to be at the front and leading the charge!